As a busy race director, you should have a software system in place that makes your job easier and better serves your participants. With choices on everything from self-service options to security measures to added features, choosing the right race software for your next event can seem intimidating. To help you sort through the clutter, here’s a short list of the top 8 features to look for when making your running software selection.
- User-friendly registration. To maximize participation in your next event, it’s important to offer participants self-service options to register for your race when and where it’s most convenient for them. Instead of driving to a facility, standing in line and filling out registration and waiver forms, your software solution should offer an easy-to-use online registration option for participants so they can sign up in just minutes from any Internet-enabled computer.
- Easy credit card processing. By offering convenient and fast credit card payment options, you will better serve your participants who prefer not to carry cash and checks. Look for a race software solution that accepts credit cards as a standard option. This should not be an additional fee or add-on.
- Secure online transactions. The security of your participants’ personal information is of the utmost importance. Be sure that you carefully evaluate and understand the security measures offered by each running software vendor to ensure your participants’ data is never compromised.
- Email confirmations. Once a participant has registered and paid for the running event, make sure your software program will automatically send the participant an email confirmation. This automated step will save you an enormous amount of time having to field phone calls and manually sending email confirmations yourself. It will also give your participants peace of mind knowing their transactions were successfully processed and they have a receipt to confirm it.
- Secure database. In addition to evaluating the security of the vendors’ online transactions, it’s equally important that each race registration vendor can also ensure the security of your database. Most running software programs are Web-based and hosted by the technology provider, meaning that the company is responsible for the protection of your data. Find out how and where the technology provider stores its servers and understand the security measures the company has put in place.
- Interactive online features. Access to times, stats, schedules and live results will be important for your runners and their families and friends. Look for a software company that offers interactive online features, not only to benefit your participants, but also to demonstrate the professionalism and quality of your events.
- Customized individual product training. Every race and every race director is different, so product training should be individualized as well. Look for a technology partner that understands the running industry and understands your personal technology needs. Expect that your product training will be customized just for you, focusing on the features and modules that are important to the success of your event.
- Automatic tracking of participant activity. Reports are important to every business, including your race or event. Look for a race registration software that allows you to pull reports and data at any time to better understand your participation numbers, participant ages and geographic reach, event revenues, expenses, online transactions and more. By having access to participant activity, not only will you have better oversight into the success of your event every step of the way, you’ll also know how to better market your event now and in the future by distinguishing what age groups and geographic areas are most drawn to your race.
The final important selection criteria should stand on its own: choose the technology partner you trust the most. Software providers that hire and invest in good people, develop smart technologies, offer exceptional customer service and marketing support, and understand the ins and outs of the running industry are important to the overall success of your event. Talk to other race directors and event planners about the pros and cons of their software selections, research your top potential technology partners online and evaluate the reviews and comments you find, talk to the race software company and see how well you interact with its customer service support staff, and ask for references to speak firsthand to the company’s customers about their likes and dislikes with their software selection. You may find that it’s the people behind the software technology that can matter most in determining your running software selection.